Tag Archives: Cohama

Ad Campaign – Cohama Fabrics, 1947

Today’s post is a rerun from over two years ago.  I recently ran across this and decided to share it with all who missed it the first time around.

I suppose I ought to have a category titled, “Things I didn’t know,”  because that is where this entry would have to be placed.  Or it could go under “Things I learned while looking for something else,”  or even, “Things I should have noticed before but did not.”

While looking through my collection of American Fabrics magazines, the above ad caught my eye. It tells how fabric maker Cohama maintained the Cohama Hand-Looming Workshop,  a place where the fabric designers could experiment with their ideas before committing to large runs on the mechanized looms. I thought that this was a pretty neat idea, and gave Cohama some silent brownie points for such a practical solution to what can be a costly problem.

But it turns out that Cohana was not the only wool manufacturer who relied on the hand loom to try out the new ideas of the designers.

In the Fall 1949 issue of American Fabrics there is a small article, “Ideas Tailored on a Moment’s Notice”, in which they show the hand weaving operation at Forstmann Woolen Company.  Called the Provincial Designing Room, it was under the direction of Miss Margaret Swanson, and employed two hand looms on which weavers would interpret the ideas of designers working for clothing manufacturers. The designer could watch the fabric develop, and make changes if necessary. After the designer was satisfied with the sample, it would be processed by the mechanized looms.

I love the quaintness of the Provincial Designing Room!  In the photo above Miss Swanson is working with Ellen Brooke of Glenhunt (a suit and coat maker) and a hand weaver to develop the fabric to Miss Brooke’s satisfaction.

Brooke and Swanson, looking at how the newly developed fabric cuts and drapes.

The hand weaver, Alice Berman, making the sample worked out by Swanson and Brooke.

A swatch of the handwoven sample

And where the run of fabric will eventually be made, on the fully automated looms at Forestmann.

All illustrations are from the Fall 1949 issue of American  Fabrics and are copyright Reporter Publications, Inc.


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Diane Von Furstenberg for Vogue Patterns – 1976

First, let’s talk about prints.  There are some prints that you really don’t even need a label in order to identify them:  Lilly Pulitzer, Pucci, Liberty.  You might even add the 1970s knit prints designed by Diane von Furstenberg to go with her wrap dress and other simple designs.

In 1976, not only could you buy a DVF wrap dress, you could make the very same dress, using the pattern released by Vogue, and her official fabrics, which were produced by Cohama Fabric.  I love the idea of being able to actually buy the designer fabrics in one’s local fabric store.  Yes, I know you can buy Pulitzer and Liberty prints, but can you imagine there being an Oscar de la Renta and a Prada section in the fabric store?

An interesting thought, because there well may be a Prada section – sort of.  Miuccia Prada used at least five Lilly prints in her 2012 Resort collection.  (Start with #15. You can’t see the Lilly signatures, but they are there.  Prada also used Lilly prints in her menswear Spring/summer 2012 collection.)

I don’t know where Cohama produced this fabric, but I found it in one of the little textile producing towns that dotted the North Carolina landscape.  I love visiting the antique and thrift stores in this type of town because I’ve found some incredible textiles over the years.

There is not enough for a dress, but what about a wrap blouse?


Filed under Fashion Magazines, Sewing, Textiles